Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New horizons in managerial inexperience

Dan Jennings was the manager Monday night in the first
professional game he was ever in uniform for.

The Miami Marlins fired former Twin Mike Redmond as manager Sunday. On Monday they announced that general manager Dan Jennings would take the job.

Jennings has a good reputation around baseball -- as a front office executive and scout. He never played pro ball, never managed in the minors, never donned a uniform for any purpose until now.

Teams are increasingly hiring skippers without managerial experience (including Paul Molitor with the Twins), but this is a step further. There have been general managers who moved into the dugout, but they had managerial experience at some level of pro ball and/or played in the majors.

That this hire has met with near-universal scorn is hardly surprising, For one thing, Marlins owner Jeff Loria lacks the benefit of any doubt. Loria is reminiscent of Milo Bloom's description of Senator Bedfellow in the old Bloom County comic strip: "Leaving a trail of slime where ever he goes ..."

The protestations from Loria's lackeys not withstanding, the assumption is that Jennings was chosen because he's already on the payroll. Loria's now paying both Ozzie Guillen (for this season) and Redmond (through 2017) not to manage; Loria now essentially gets to avoid paying a third to actually show up.

I said near-universal scorn, This piece from MLB TV's Brian Kenny is the rare exception.

The key, of course, is what the players think. Jennings may be a good judge of talent; he may be adept at handling a spreadsheet; but he probably hasn't put the thought into the nuances of game strategy that an experienced manager has. I have no doubt that Buck Showalter or Ron Gardenhire could lay quite a filibuster on you about the best counts to put the runner in motion. Jennings has experienced hands around him to advise him (some of whom would have been well-received by the voices attacking the Jennings hire), but now the tactical moves are ultimately his call, and if the players doubt his acumen, he'll have problems regardless of what he does.

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